Email has a way of taking over my life. I am constantly checking my phone, my tablet, my computer for messages that may or may not have come in.
I turn the alerts off because the sound drives me crazy, but that forces me to constantly be checking.
Maybe it’s an obsession.
Maybe it’s an issue.
Here’s how I am addressing it:
#1) Schedule Time to EMAIL
When I get to my office and lay out my day, I make 2 appointments with myself to address email. In the morning, I schedule 30 minutes to read new emails and respond to anything that needs a quick response. If it can wait, I push it. I then turn off my email and focus on projects, priority tasks and appointments. I do this without allowing email to interrupt me and keep me tethered to my inbox.
I then schedule a longer block in the afternoon. 2 goals with this time: first, I want to spend more time addressing questions that need more response. Second, I clean out my inbox. I try to keep my inbox below 30 emails at any given time, so this forces me to respond, trash and file incoming notes.
I’ve found that if I have a lot of unanswered emails in my box, I’m distracted by it. I get peace of mind when my inbox is under 30. When I’m under 20 I’m a new man!
#2) Short Answers
I prefer email for communication because it gives me a record of what we’ve talked about. I’m learning though that I don’t need to write everything I’m thinking. I’m working on main points, bullet points and tasks. Sometimes my response is short and the goal is to simply let the sender know that I got the email, and I acknowledge it.
I get rid of anything that I can. I don’t need files filled with past communication. Force yourself to ACT on the email… don’t let it just sit there. File it, Trash it, Forward it, Respond to it. Do something with it, then let it go.
I’m still working on this, but I’ve found that when I do this, I am better able to focus on people, on priority tasks and on things that demand my immediate attention.
How do you handle email?
For more on COMMUNICATION